As with most of my sermons, there are points of divergence from the notes and the delivery. Alas, in the middle of the two there is much to be interpreted.
When I ask, Did you know?, You repeat: We know…God is love!
Jesus was headed to Jerusalem. His face was set. His days were numbered and let’s be clear mammon was on his mind. Now I’m not just talking about money or wealth – although that is how the translations often give it to us. Mammon was a little more intense than that…the role that everything we have of “value” plays in our life and the way that what we have shapes who we serve.
Mammon is the culmination of all those things that we value and that threat to claim our worship of the God who provides them.
You can hear it in all of Luke it starts in the early chapters with the song of Mary giving of one’s self. You hear it in the narrative about John the Baptist, he was a wild man living out on the edges of society, the very first hippie. And then you hear it in the beatitudes: thousands upon thousands of people, gathered on the hillside hungry as all get out, all willing to reach into their own picnic baskets and share with those who around them.
And then we get today. You fast-forward to Luke 16, and don’t miss this: Jesus is not talking to those he’s trying to convert, he’s not talking to those who have need, no he’s talking to those who have already left all that they have behind to follow him. And his message to the disciples regarding Mammon was: be clever or be shrewd, but know this: you’re going to have to choose who you serve by what you value.
You’re gonna have to choose what matters AND it’s not always going to be easy.
Did you know? We know…God is love! Y’all, Jesus wanted the disciples to be keenly aware, and wants us to always remember: following God, walking in the way of Jesus, making a difference in this world, is always a choice. That’s just how simple this equation is for God: just choose. It’s a simple choice that is almost always rooted in prayer and shaped by community, but what we will worship…who we will serve…its a choice.
The other day, Gavroche was getting really frustrated. He was sitting on the floor putting together a puzzle. It wasn’t the putting of the pieces together that was frustrating him, it was that the pieces of the puzzle he was putting together didn’t seem to match the box cover that he had. And when I realized, that he was trying to put together a puzzle with the picture on it that was different from the one in front of him, I quickly went to find the real box.
Jesus’ knew that mammon — all those things in our lives that find of value — can very easily lead us to putting together a box that may or may not match the picture of the gospel we love so deeply.
Did you know? We know…God is love! Let me give you an invitation. I invite you to make being at worship at holy innocents episcopal church every single week something that you value in your putting together your puzzle of faith for life. That’s right… Now I know we are episcopal and we don’t do guilt and obligation, but I invite you. Pick a service…8, 9, 1115, 6; Tuesday 12:15; Wed 7:30. Plenty of options…to avoid obligation. But choose to do it? Why? Because this church needs a community of people willing to value worship.
Let me ask you…
Did you know? We know…God is love! Yeah, we know..the suffering need a community of people willing to value prayer more than politics because we are holy innocents?
Did you know? We know…God is love! Yeah, we know….the hungry need a community of people willing to value hospitality because we are holy innocents.
Did you know? We know…God is love! Yeah, we know, the lonely need a place for faith willing to risk valuing community because….we are….holy..innocents.
Did you know? We know…God is love! Yeah, we know, all God’s children need a community of people willing to value mission because….we are holy innocents!
I am convinced yall, the greatest threat to our work to make a difference in the world for the gospel is still mammon – its still how we choose to value all that we have from God as gift. The greatest threat to whether or not we can fulfill Christ vision for this world on earth as it is in heaven is not evil and some other form, it is worship of something called by some other name without even knowing that we are doing it.
I promise you friends. If you will pray the prayers, and read the scriptures, and engage in the mission, you will know when the box covers are wrong…and then…did you know?…yes, then, you will have a choice.